We ‘signed’ Achraf Hakimi for Arsenal in the summer of 2021 with positive results


Achraf Hakimi is reportedly wanted by Arsenal and a host of other clubs this summer, following the Moroccan’s exceptional displays for Antonio Conte’s Inter Milan side in Serie A this season.

Current right-back options Cedric, Calum Chambers and Hector Bellerin have failed to impress under Mikel Arteta this season, and with football.london also understanding that Bellerin is open to leaving the Emirates this summer, the position could be a key transfer priority this summer.

Arsenal are reportedly long-term admirers of former Real Madrid defender Hakimi, who can also play on the right side of midfield, with a recent report from the Mirror claiming that Hakimi could be available for £40million this summer, and reportedly would be open to a move to north London.

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So, what if Arsenal did sign Hakimi in the 2021 summer transfer window? And, what kind of impact could he have at the club next season?

To have a bit of fun and try to predict the future, we used Football Manager 2021 to see what could happen with Hakimi at Arsenal.

We ‘signed’ Achraf Hakimi for Arsenal in the summer of 2021

To set up this simulation, we used the Football Manager 2021 editor to arrange for Inter defender Achraf Hakimi to join Arsenal in the summer 2021 transfer window, using FM21 to run our simulation.

Arsenal's long-term interest in Inter Milan's Achraf Hakimi has been detailed.
Arsenal’s long-term interest in Inter Milan’s Achraf Hakimi has been detailed.

The Football Manager database currently contains data on more than 800,000 individuals and 45,000 active clubs, with data sourced from their international on the ground scouting network which numbers roughly 1,000 people, among their ranks are some who are involved in football in professional capacities, including scouts and coaches.

In addition, each annual iteration of Football Manager has built-in algorithms which check for outliers and data discrepancies. Data accuracy is further ensured by input from contributors who are active within the professional game (players, agents, etc.) who provide regular feedback.

This is what Hakimi’s profile looks like on Football Manager 2021, as of July 2021.

Achraf Hakimi's profile on FM21
Achraf Hakimi’s profile on FM21

We then simulated the entire 2021/22 season on the game, to see what kind of impact Hakimi could have at the Emirates Stadium from the summer transfer window onwards.

Before we go into the simulation, in addition to the manual signing of Hakimi, Arsenal had a major rebuild ahead of the 2021/22 season, with a number of other incomings and outgoings.

The Gunners signed Rodrigo (Leeds United), Pascal Gross (Brighton), Gianluca Frabotta (Juventus), Isco (Real Madrid), Joao Mario (Inter) and Ben White (Brighton).

Matteo Guendouzi, Cedric, Calum Chambers, Alexandre Lacazette, David Luiz, Mohamed Elneny, Willian and Pablo Mari all left the club.

Here’s what happened!

Achraf Hakimi’s 2021/22 season for Arsenal

Hakimi’s form during the 2021/22 season meant Hector Bellerin spent most of the campaign on the bench, with the Moroccan defender showcasing his quality in defence and going forwards, proving to be an outstanding signing.

The 22-year-old made 44 appearances for Arsenal in the 2021/22 simulated season, with the full-back scoring four goals and registering six assists, earning an impressive average match rating of 7.28.

Hakimi's stats for Arsenal in our simulated 2021/22 season.
Hakimi’s stats for Arsenal in our simulated 2021/22 season.

But those stats don’t really tell the entire story, because Hakimi was among the Gunners’ most creative players and created a large number of chances.

If his teammates’ finishing had been better, Hakimi would have had considerably more assists.

Compared to his Arsenal teammates, only Bukayo Saka and Isco created more clear-cut chances, with only Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Rodrigo and Saka completing more key passes than the full-back.

Hakimi's creative stats compared to his Arsenal teammates in 2021/22.
Hakimi’s creative stats compared to his Arsenal teammates in 2021/22.

Thanks to his strong performances, Hakimi was named in Arsenal’s best 11 for the 2021/22 season.

Football Manager 2021 calculates every team’s best performing 11 at the end of every season, using a variety of key metrics.

Arsenal’s best team at the end of the 2021/22 season was as follows; Leno; Hakimi, White, Gabriel, Tierney; Partey, J. Mario; Saka, Isco, Aubameyang; Rodrigo.

Arsenal's best XI in 2021/22
Arsenal’s best XI in 2021/22

So, how did Arsenal perform in all competitions in our simulated season with Hakimi in the team?

The good news is that Arteta’s side won a major trophy, with the Gunners beating London rivals Chelsea in the Carabao Cup final.

Goals from Aubameyang and Gabriel Martinelli sealed a 2-0 win at Wembley Stadium.

Arsenal won the Carabao Cup in 2021/22
Arsenal won the Carabao Cup in 2021/22

However the Blues would get their revenge in the FA Cup final, with Tuchel’s side lifting the trophy after beating Arsenal 2-1.

Arsenal were beaten by Chelsea in the FA Cup final in 2021/22
Arsenal were beaten by Chelsea in the FA Cup final in 2021/22

So, what about the Premier League?

Here is how the final 2021/22 PL table looked in our simulation.

On the face of it, Arsenal’s sixth position seems pretty underwhelming, considering the investment that was made in the summer.

Both Leicester City and Chelsea finished above the Gunners in the league table.

The 2021/22 simulated Premier League table.
The 2021/22 simulated Premier League table.

However, when you compare this finishing position (6) and points tally (62), this is a significant improvement compared to recent seasons.

After 30 games, Arsenal have won only 42 points in the real-life 2020/21 season so far, with the Gunners only winning 56 points in the previous 2019/20 campaign, so a sixth-place finish and an improved points tally isn’t too bad at all.

Overall, Football Manager predicts that with Hakimi being brought in, along with a few other additions and departures, Arteta’s long-term project could continue with a positive sixth-placed league finish next season and a major trophy.

Would you be happy with this next season?

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As always these simulations are just one way of predicting a player’s prospective impact, but it’s interesting to see how Hakimi could perform for Arsenal, if the defender did sign for Arteta’s side in the summer!

Football Manager (FM) is the world’s leading football management simulation title. The latest edition of the game, FM21, is out now on PC, Mac, Mobile, Touch and Xbox.

The Football Manager database currently contains data on more than 800,000 individuals and 45,000 active clubs, with data sourced from their international on the ground scouting network which numbers roughly 1,000 people, among their ranks are some who are involved in football in professional capacities, including scouts and coaches.





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